He was a university student trying to make ends meet by teaching fencing classes. She was enamoured of her instructor. Decades later, their first-born son attended the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His sport? That was a given.
In China, Philippe Beaudry finished dead last of 30 competitors. He faced the reigning Olympic champion, the Italian fencer Aldo Montano, in the second round. Beaudry was pummelled 15-4, but the trouncing came with a silver lining: He left inspired.
“I saw the energy in his eyes. He was much more experienced than I was,” says Beaudry, now 25. “I tried to learn from that.”
At 8 a.m., while most Montrealers are mid-commute, Beaudry is reaching the summit of Mount Royal, the halfway point on his hour-long morning run. He turns back towards his apartment for a quick bite, then heads to the gym, where he tosses a medicine ball to strengthen his back, arms and legs. He tries to even out both sides of his body, but that’s not such an easy task, given the one-side dominance of his sport. Beaudry’s right arm, right leg and left calf are huge. (That imbalance has some benefits – he once did 42 consecutive one-handed push-ups at a party – but finding pants that fit can be tricky.)
Afternoons are devoted to fencing-specific work. Beaudry’s trademark manoeuvre is the “second,” a block (called a parry) followed by an up-and-under strike that’s very hard to stop when executed correctly. He’s hoping that smooth move will spell success in London. Beaudry’s aiming for a podium finish, and signs are encouraging. Recently, he beat the sixth-ranked fencer at the World Cup.
“On a good day, I believe anything can happen,” he says. “I just hope to be one of the last three standing.” So do his parents, who will be watching the family ambition play out from the stands.
Quick Fact: There are three types of Olympic fencing, Beaudry’s, the sabre, has more slashing and hacking than finessed jabbing, since the sides of the blade are valid points of contact, unlike in épée or foil.
When to watch: Sunday, July 29 at 5:30 am
Q & A: Philippe Beaudry
Zorro or the Three Musketeers:
Zorro. He’s got more style.
“Nautilus Plus,” because I train a lot
(Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)